Respect for People – Understanding Psychology

Process improvement tools offer great resources to improve results. Dr. Deming included understanding psychology as one of the 4 areas of his management system. He understood organizations where not machines but systems made up of people. Therefore management needs to reflect that reality. -Lee Fried discusses these ideas in It is All About the People:

We may organize and teach around the process, but it is the people that we really need to change if we want to show long-term sustainable improvement. This is exactly why every organization that treats Lean as a process improvement methodology or a set of tools fails in their efforts.

I know now that in the early stages of Lean transformation improvement should not be measured by project charts or number of improvement events. The foundational work of changing the way people think and behave needs to be done first, done correctly and done at the rate it can be absorbed by those that are doing the work in the first place.

I see building improvement capacity of the organization, which largely means building the capacity of the people, as an extremely important focus of improvement efforts. As he mentions, it is at times, important to slow down the pace of change to ensure that people can adopt and incorporate the new concepts fully. If not the improvements tend to only take effect on the surface. Improvements in results are important but it is also critical to have management improvement concepts adopted as the natural way of doing business. And reaching that point most likely requires a focus on making that happen as well as improving processes… This split focus may seem to dilute effort but it is the most effective long term strategy (the time invested today in building capacity will make the management changes much more likely to sustain over the long term and will improve results over the long term).

Related: How to ImprovePeople are Our Most Important AssetManagement Recipearticles on process improvement

5 thoughts on “Respect for People – Understanding Psychology

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  2. I arrived and this page after searching for a blog about psychology. I must say it wasn’t what I was looking for exactly, but enjoyed the read. After having read your post I continued to read Lee Fried’s take on the topic and agree completely with both of you. People do need to adjust their mentality to change and dramatic change should be paced well for the benefit of staff and in turn the company. There are many more psychological issues that may present themselves, including stress & anxiety, if handled poorly but we will leave that for another day… thanks

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